WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) today introduced the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Reform Act, bipartisan legislation to allow the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to save taxpayers money by leasing unused storage capacity at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). The added revenue will support SPR maintenance and its long-term operational readiness.
“If the tanks are empty, let’s put them to use,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is crucial for our national security and this will help keep it in good working order and save taxpayers money at the same time.”
“This pragmatic solution shows that lawmakers can work across the aisle to craft energy policy that puts money back into people’s pockets. We need more bipartisan efforts in Washington that save taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Bennet.
The SPR currently has a crude oil storage capacity of 713.5 million barrels (MMB) and an inventory of approximately 660 MMB. As the DOE withdraws oil to meet congressionally mandated sales in the years ahead – approximately 250 million barrels by 2028 – roughly 45 percent of the SPR’s storage capacity will be unused.
The SPR Reform Act authorizes the DOE to conduct a pilot program to lease spare SPR capacity to the private sector and foreign governments in order to preserve and maximize the strategic value of this important energy security asset. The legislation requires the U.S. energy secretary to ensure that any lease entered into with a private entity or foreign government will not impair the national security of the United States or its ability to use the SPR.
The SPR is comprised of 62 underground storage caverns that were solution-mined from naturally occurring salt domes located at four sites, two in Texas and two in Louisiana. The Bayou Choctaw storage site is located in Iberville Parish, Louisiana, approximately 12 miles southwest of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Bayou Choctaw currently has six storage caverns, an authorized storage capacity of 76 MMB and a cavern inventory of 71.8 million barrels. The West Hackberry storage site is located in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, approximately 25 miles southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana. West Hackberry currently has 21 storage caverns, an authorized storage capacity of 220.4 million barrels and a cavern inventory of 199.5 million barrels.